Why is professional development so important at Greensboro Montessori School?
We talk about our students being lifelong learners.
We always want them to discover, to ask questions, to think new things, and to have new thoughts. Especially at a Montessori school, we believe the adults who help guide our students’ education also need to be lifelong learners. We, too, should ask questions and think and try new things, just as we ask our students.
As professional educators, we are always watching for chances to learn: observing students or other teachers, having that unexpected conversation with a colleague, or connecting with professionals and researchers and new theories through more organized professional development — conferences, workshops, speakers, or graduate classes. We spend a lot of resources on professional development because we believe our School is only as good as our professional educators are.
The Montessori Event
Our crew was quite fortunate to have an amazing professional experience recently. A trip up to Washington, D.C. was the setting …
For four days 26 faculty and staff from Greensboro Montessori School joined 4,400 other Montessori educators from around the world. We were all there for the American Montessori Society annual international conference. To have 26 of us together at the same place and same time at such a high-quality professional conference is truly spectacular. We thought together, asked questions, learned new things, built community amongst ourselves, and talked about how we further build community amongst our students and families. Being together with the 26 of us allowed for unprecedented synergy; for deep conversations about specific Greensboro Montessori School curricula or programs; for conversations about new ideas for which there's never time in the midst of our normal school days; and for space in our minds and hearts to dream about what we want our School to be. (Oh, yeah, we did laugh a little bit, too.)
A unique opportunity like this allows us, individually, to be better educators, and for us, collectively, to make our School stronger ... ultimately providing a better educational experience for our students. Every professional development workshop or seminar our faculty and staff attend is for the benefit of our students. Our professional development is for our students.
What did we Learn?
Since our time in Washington, D.C., we have already begun to put to use much of what we learned and thought. The turn-around practical value is very high at a conference which is so focused on our exact curriculum and pedagogy. The 26 of us expressed our reflections in a shared space. Here are a few things we wrote:
- "Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone shows you a new way to use a [Montessori] material. This made me think of other ways I could use the materials..."
- "Something new to start doing is taking more time to create a comfortable, prepared environment; I would like to involve the students more consistently on these decisions..."
- "I’d like to think more project-based learning and how it does fit (perfectly) with Montessori philosophies, especially in the Upper School; I talked with the director of the Riley Institute that does all the Montessori research at Furman University about a new workshop they created about project-based learning, and she said she might be able to come up to Greensboro to give a workshop for us..."
- "Creating an empowering environment for my advisee group [in Junior High]; finding and providing activities that help each [student] to know [their] own strengths and weaknesses..."
- "Our Land program and microeconomy are incredible, everyone else seems to really struggle with [adolescent] programs..."
- "Observation; I had forgotten just how fundamental and essential it is to sit and observe; in order to appreciate this process, it might be helpful for the rest of the team in the classroom to have their own time to observe as well; I remember now that we must make this a priority..."
- "In the storm of adolescence, we must be the calm… Don’t get on the rollercoaster with the students.”
- Some of the titles of our favorite workshops include: “What makes a Secondary Montessori Program Unique?,” “Enhancing Student Engagement in Secondary [Adolescent] Classrooms,” “Critical Partnerships for Children with Exceptionalities,” “Parent Education That Will Keep Them Coming Back For More!,” and “Visual Arts in Socratic Seminar.”
Thank you for supporting our faculty and staff in our own professional development. It only makes us better educators, and our School a better one for our students.
Everything we do, professional development included, is for our students.